RIYADH – Saudi Arabia’s Public Health Authority (Weqaya) has underlined the need to draw up flexible sick leave policies for employees affected by Covid-19 in line with the regulations of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development.

In the latest issue of guidelines to deal with suspected or confirmed cases of the coronavirus at workplaces, Weqaya said the mechanism for dealing with suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus includes activating verification of health status and immunization of individuals on the Tawakkalna application upon entering the workplace. The guide calls for a ban on entry of any employee whose health status on the app is ‘Covid positive’ or ‘not immune’.

The guide also stipulates that an internal mechanism to report coronavirus cases shall be introduced at workplaces and the mechanism would cover the employee, his designated department, the means of communication to receive the report and what was done after the report, apart from reporting of the case in the event that the employee has symptoms during his presence at the workplace or before arriving there. The guide also clarifies the circumstances during which an employee is entitled to sick leave or not to report for duty as well as the mechanism to refer an employee with coronavirus symptoms to hospital or health center.

The guide lists penalties for violators. According to the instructions of the ministries of interior and human resources, punitive measures will be taken against those who refuse to cooperate, deliberately conceal the results of the tests, do not disclose the appearance of symptoms, or his having contact with a confirmed case.

In the event of an employee entering the workplace with symptoms of coronavirus, the case shall be considered suspicious, and the employee shall be asked to leave the premises and prevented from making contact with others, in addition to isolating the case in a designated area until transfer outside the facility.

If the employee is not in a condition to leave the workplace by himself, any of his relatives will be called in to help him to receive healthcare. And if the employee’s health condition is unstable, an ambulance can be called in to take him to hospital.

The guide explains that the usual procedures approved by the employer with regard to sick leave shall be followed, and the employee is allowed to return to work after the symptoms disappear or a negative result is obtained.

Weqaya clarified that the procedures of those employees who were in contact with an infected person, whether inside the workplace or outside the workplace, shall be treated as a suspected case regardless of the immunization status, and the employee is allowed to return to work after recovery at the end of the isolation period according to the change of his health status on the Tawakkalna application. If the infected employee was admitted to hospital, the decision to return to work depends on the report of the doctor who is treating him, the guide pointed out.

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